Friday, 31 July 2015

In the meantime...

My laptop is not only dead but now appears to have gone AWOL. The suppliers courier definitely collected it and then the trail goes dead. Whatever the outcome of this IT debacle it means no Eve or music for me for a while. In a way it is a good thing. While FozzieSov being the hot topic it is a good time to take stock. I reversed out of the my big plan once it was clear FozzieSov was going to unravel a number of elements. While they could be worked around, it wouldn't have been fun so I let that go.

As a holding position my main is getting the Astrometric skills to Level 5. The thinking is I will have less dependency on implants or the hull bonus. This would mean I would have all the Scanning skills at level 5 once completed. This opens up a variety of hull choices in about 70 days time so I have plenty of space to think about the next objective.

My trader alt continues to do her thing. Whatever I end up doing, it will involve ISK and she provided a reliable revenue stream for little effort. I had put a lot of speculative low buy orders out and they seem to have all come through. Once I return I will be able to capitalise on that. The trader can also fly blockade runners and cloaky nullified Tengus so is a good hauler too.

My final alt is also a bit of a trader hauler but has in the past had the least attention skillwise. It can fly blockade runners currently. A lot of my old plan hinged on this alt and I was dual training her to run a POS, Corp and and a couple of other project related this so the skill-set now looks a bit of a mess. This alt is currently the CEO of a one person Corp. A lot of the things I was planning to do requires you to be in corp. Beyond that the corp serves little purpose. I considered winding it up but I haven't had any wardecs (yet) so decided to keep my options open.

Going forward, rehashing what I have said before, the lesson from FozzieSov is to keep things simple and short term. This is to mitigate against unexpected changes that impact the whole game. These can jump out at you unexpectedly with the current release cadence where you basically get about 4 weeks notice. Not good when you are halfway through a 160 day skill queue. The other lesson is that the general direction of travel is to make the rest of Eve more like Null. I am not sure whether that is intentional or not but it is just the impression I get from the way changes get implemented. And the one thing we do know about null is it is empty and has no meaningful trading hubs. Now this could be a worry or an opportunity. It will certainly mean less players. Every nerf to hisec/low/wh space to make null more appealing (or make those places more like null) just makes people stubbornly reject the null epiphany they are supposed to experience and they leave the game.  But there will still be opportunities to make ISK trading so my thoughts are around maximising those opportunities.

The vision thing now is for all my characters to be cloaky, slippery, and be able to obtain and carry profitable loads in every area of space. They also need to be able to maximise their coverage. The changes to jump clones where you no longer need good standings are welcome in this respect. But I will also need to be able to work independently of structures because there are just too many hostages to fortune. The Orca looks a potential avenue of investigation and it would be fun to fly one regardless. This will take some time but there is plenty of exploration to be done to keep me occupied. 

A final thought on FozzieSov. Harvesting tears is not my thing, but if it was it did occur to me that I was in a perfect position to troll Sov owners with interceptors and Griffins for little cost. It would annoy the hell out of me if I was on the receiving end so can appreciate the strong feelings about this.  

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Hacking and Archaeology Skills

CSM member, Chance Ravinne kicked off a thread on the Eve Online Forum and on Reddit. The basic premise is that Data and Relic sites are pretty much identical as an activity. The location and minigame is much the same. But you need different equipment and skills - Archaeology and Hacking to do the sites.

In so much that there is any variation, Relic sites tend to be more valuable, and Data sites appear (to me at least) slightly harder to hack. So many people prioritise Relic sites and therefore Relic Skills and shipfits. I have level 5 in both Hacking and Archaeology. Depending on where I am exploring, I use either and Astero equipped with both analysers or an Ares with a mobile depot to swap the analysers around. But it has taken a long time to reach this point and learning essentially the same skill twice hasn't had a reciprocal improvement to my enjoyment of the game. The is no real sense of achievement.

So should the skills be merged? Well if everything else is to remain the same then I think the answer should be yes. But it would also make sense to merge the equipment and the sites. This would be a pity. What really needs to happen is there should be a greater differentiation between the site content. Different minigames, a greater alignment in terms of reward, and a different purpose for the loot. How many encryption skillbooks does the game need? Certainly I would like to see both site seeding lore related elements that may or may not be useful in the future or could be brought together to create or learn about some hidden facet of the game.

Anyway the debate is open so don't be a victim and participate.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Depletion, Depreciation and Dead Laptops

The death of my laptop was sudden and profound. But not entirely unexpected. Things get old, wear out and break. So no Eve or much else for the short term. For now, my online options are limited to this ancient Samsung Netbook I converted to Linux and my mobile phone. Both are good in there own way but neither can substitute my laptop. No matter life goes on and you don't need to be in Eve to participate in it.

For example, on Saturday the Empress Jamyl made another appearance in Amarr in her Titan. She waxed lyrical about the Drifter threat. Then got distinctly peeved about the Society of Conscious Thought entosing her. What ever they were looking for they found it and she promptly zapped them. How do I know this? The “Tweetfleet” Slack Team has a #Lore channel and a running commentary with screenshots.

Then there is the ongoing FozzieSov debate on Reddit. Reddit is of course a pretty toxic environment so you do need to turn down the volume level. Nonetheless, some interesting views are developing. My instinct was that FozzieSov wasn't disruptive enough to change anything significantly and didn't address the elephant in the room – that Null is basically empty. This isn't a shared view as many have said the small ship action has been excellent. It is early days so hard to reach any solid conclusions. But there are some worrying undercurrents that might indicate that the main objectives of Fozziesov might not be met. For example, Goonswarm have opened their space to renters. If this is successful, then the idea of local groups moving into null and holding Sov is going to be no more viable than it was before. Secondly, the ore rebalance has started to impact the highsec markets.

As I write, Tritanium prices have dived but the rarer ores have increased in price. So seemingly Null has switched mining production to veldspar but are not using it to construct anything as was intended but just dump it on the Hisec markets. This will obviously impact the Hisec miners who may just pack up and leave rather than join null. Extending the jump nerf to Freighters would fix this perhaps but imagine the outcry. Thus far, the concept of null activities being locally based isn't any nearer and the changes are having unfavourable and unintended consequences on areas other than null.

I could go on but then another Reddit post offered a solution. New conflict drivers based on resource depletion was the basic premise. That is, if you over exploit the resources in you area of space they eventually deplete. However, less developed areas of space would be rich in resources. So if your neighbour didn't exploit their area, you would have the motivation to go and take it from them since your area would become more and more barren as time went on. Now this appeals to me. I have always wondered why asteroids just respawn after downtime. And as an explorer, I experience depletion of a sort. A relic site, for example, might respawn... somewhere, but it won't be in the same system so you have to move on.

But I would go further. I would go beyond depletion and add in depreciation for good measure. Why is it that the first Venture I ever owned all those years ago is as good in every way as one built yesterday? What is more, there is no cost of ownership. I could pay insurance and there are repairs assuming you survive a fight. But it costs me nothing if I don't fly it and keep it docked up and it never ages or needs maintenance. What am I getting at? Well imagine you had a fleet of capitals that had a half life. Lets say in two years time they would be twice as expensive to run and half as effective in a battle. You would want to use them earlier and more often to get the value from them. It becomes a conflict driver and would drive industry to build newer replacements for the ships no longer fit for purpose. That industry would more likely be locally based to serve the main customers. Null suddenly has a purpose and the power blocs of null have to the choice to loose their assets in battle or to depreciation. My laptop now has a value of zero. But at least I used it and it added value.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Titan in HiSec: Enter the Empress


From a lore perspective this is very interesting. Jamyl has been keeping a low profile lately. Rumours that she has been possessed by " the other" has not helped her reputation. The ship under construction is also interesting from a lore perspective I think. An Abaddon with a humongous  weapon caused some sort of catastrophe in the past. Then of course the Drifters are in this mix too, and Max Singularity... and so I dashed off down to the Amarr Navy’s Royal Shipyard in Safizon.

On arriving, Safizon had about 10 people in local with the same objective as me. Role Playing for the most part as Amarr Nobles, Usurpers and Corps A fleet was formed and orbited the station before heading of to Amarr (I think)

By the time the Empress arrived local had shot up to over 400 people. She arrived in an Avatar Titan with an escort. Speeches were made which were all suitably ambiguous. The drifters never came but at least I got to see a Titan finally and it was a nice change of pace. And then she was gone.

I'm one of the dots trailing the Imperial Titan

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Summer of Music - Nova Haven

Music has been taking up most of my Eve time recently. I have been working on a couple of projects. For one of them, I was flattered to be approached by the awesome guys at Nova Haven and The Neocom to do something for them. This is the result:


Firstly, I was delighted to accept the offer. Nova Haven is one of those entities in Eve that gives more than it takes. It is a young PVP corp led by KiraTsukimoto for newbros. It offers training and has a smattering of seasoned vets to show you the ropes. Additionally the Neocom, which helped spawn Nova Haven is a great show that doesn't shower you with complexity but does capture essence of what is going on in Eve. I love the chemistry between the presenters. They have also be very generous in their comments about me so of course I wanted to do something for them. But what to do?

The Brief

It wasn't much more than "do some of your magic Luobote". So no pressure there then :/  I lurked on their channel to see what they liked. Musically, it should be guitar based and not Trance was the sense of what I got. Now the first band I ever saw live was Kraftwerk which might give you a sense of my musical comfort zone. So I am worried. Guitars also don't translate well in a digital environment and can sound really mechanical and false. At which point I started getting a migraine... 

The Concept

Whatever I chose to do had to be unique to Nova Haven. Something that would identify them and they could identify with. In my mind it should be something that could be used to support one of their videos as a minimum but also stand up in its own right. It must have changes in feel and edit points for action shots but also tell a story. 

My start point was to scrape some samples off the Neocom show with the idea being to get a snapshot of the banter, the character and the purpose of Nova Haven. I don't know whether the NEVAH say Never is really their call sign but it should be. I decided to run that particular sample through a Vocoder to make it more robotic. Another "Nova Haven" sample caught my attention because it sounded like a PA announcement in a shopping mall. That germinated the idea of confused and nervous Newbro entering the Captain's Quarters, hearing the PA Announcement to join Nova Haven and to go into action. 

I added elevator music, crowd noise, footsteps and a couple of door slams along with some tense breathing to try and relay that mental scene.  I decided the guitars had to sound raw and slightly mistimed with each other because well newbros. I used synths to emphasise that we are flying spaceships in space and there is always an ethereal nature to that. Balancing synths with guitars is never easy. Both demand the limelight so I tried to give them different complementary roles during the course of the song. 

The guitars themselves evolve from standard American style power chords in the beginning to British Pete Townsend style wind-milling at the end as the synths get more dense. The synth themselves also evolve adopting a number of different European styles along the way. In a way this is meant to represent the diversity of Nova Haven but fundamentally it was about getting the sounds to work together that seemed to work in my head at least for each phase of the song. 

In Conclusion

I played an early version to Kira and Proto who were positive and had some good feeback. Proto liked the point where the guitars drop for the lead synth to enter (as do I!). So I twisted the knife a bit more and made it more pronounced by muting the back track and teased a bit with the later drops. Sorry Proto :)

Anyway it was a blast making it and the guys seem to like it so its a result.  Now to finish working on the other project...  

Monday, 13 July 2015

Playing with Fireworks

The perfect treatment for all the soul searching and hand wringing about the direction of Eve (mea culpa) is to just play the bloody game. So a big thanks to my good friends in Signal Cartel for inviting me on their 500th member celebration Hugs fleet. The 30+ Griffin blob is sight to behold with a couple of rookie ships for those new players without the skills. A hugs fleet for those who don't know is the credo friendly doctrine wardec griffin fit. DPS is zero. However, ECM, Fireworks and Snowball delivery is off the scale. The ships were provided by SC. The roam started and finished with a treasure hunt with all sorts of goodies to be found. I resisted the challenge thinking it would be a bit mean to deprive some newbro signallers of SOE probe launcher, despite being in close proximity to a container (note to self: must change that 'safe' bookmark).

Anyway, we moved on to our first destination. A smartbomb took a chunk out of me on one gate but a quick repair and we headed off to null. The scouts doing a robust job ahead of us meant it was a relaxed journey with the added novelty of heading in the right direction this time. We arrived with fanfare and docked up at PFR's Freeport so thanks to those guys for being so accommodating. New bros were taught how to use jump clones at this point. With the lesson over, the PFR TCU was then deluged with snowballs and fireworks. It was about then my name got called in the prize draw. A Prospect! Now that ship has never been in my calculations but now I have got one.... 

PFR gets a good hugging

So time to leave PFR space. Now at this point my journey came to an abrupt halt as I landed in a bubble and got instantly alpha'd. I regard this as progress. Last time I was in a Griffin I erm... mislaid it. To this day I don't know what happened to it. Part of the problem this time I think was I imagined I was still in my Ares. But a Griffin is no Ares. It was a good way to explode however and I was not alone as a terrible toll was taken which included the FC. Nevertheless, the guy who stepped up to take the remaining fleet of Griffins and Pods to the final destination did an excellent job. And what a reward it was for those who made it. I am not sure how discreet I should be about this so will stay on the safe side of OpSec. 

The the final destination was a POS and inside it was an "OMG it's a Titan moment". Except of course these are explorers so less prone to outbursts describing the bleedin' obvious. Clearly they were shocked because they kept bumping into it. Deep thanks again to the guy in PL (you know who you are!) for arranging this, for providing replacement ships and bridging the bewildered newbros back home safely. Shame I missed it!

I woke up in Amarr, hastily bought and fitted an Ares and dashed by the shortest route to the arrival point in HighSec just as the stragglers arrived. A fantastic and memorable roam. Well done to JohnnySplunk, Mynxee and all the others (including the scouts) for putting together such an awesome event and congratulations on reaching the 500 member mark. That, when all is said and done, is what Eve is really all about.

P.S. Check out the next Neocom podcast ;) 

Friday, 10 July 2015

CCP, CSMX and Foot Marksmanship

So consider this statement from CCP Fozzie on is Dev Blog:

"One final set of changes that we are implementing in Aegis is a set of tweaks to Nullsec wormhole spawning and Quantum Flux Generator upgrades. Some members of the CSM (I’ll let them identify themselves if they wish) approached us in recent weeks with balance concerns about wormhole travel for Nullsec entities. We took a look at their concerns and decided to make some tweaks to help ease them."

Now try and read behind the lines. My interpretation is this: The change was proposed by the CSMX. It was not a unanimous decision but it was a majority decision. CCP are not wildly enthusiastic about the change. It is not a big deal to make the change and they will collude with it on the basis that the fingers of blame don't point at them.

Now I might be wrong but how do you explain such a week and unprofessional endorsement of what is obviously a controversial change by CCP? What is clear is CCP has little respect for CSMX otherwise why would you deliberately undermine them in this way?

The fallout amongst the CSM on Reddit and Twitter has been spectacular as the blame game has kicked off. This was probably inevitable given CCP's provocative statement. The only interesting thing to come out from what has been an infantile exchange is that not one CSMX member has put their hand up said they proposed the change, although plenty have grudgingly provided rather suboptimal reasons to justify why they supported the change. That doesn't bode well for the rest of the CSMX term or the Summer of Sov. Trust will be an issue between the CSM and CCP now and you have to wonder how coherent CSMX can now be collectively. So excellent foot marksmanship all round.

And let us not ignore the change itself. Again, this is another nullsec protectionst measure and as such will only harm the people it was meant to help. Nullsec will continue down the road of atrophy. Limiting access to it will just make it even more of an empty sideshow with Citadels. But so long as the cronyism within the CSM continues, CCP will always have a plausible get out clause. Fortunately for the rest of us there are plenty of  things to do in Eve. Did you read that interesting post on Reddit (it happens sometimes!) on Planetary Bombardment?

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

FozzieSov, Null, Ants and the Elephant in the Room

Summer of Sov

Great so FozzieSov is here... and I have skirted around this subject. This is because there are people who naturally feel passionately about Sov warfare and whether you like it or not it is the signature of Eve to the outside world. I have a semi detached relationship to Null. I certainly fly there but would not choose to live there. Commenting on null therefore feels a bit like intruding on someones private business and I am not best placed to understand the issues in any case.

My Skin in the Game

However the summer of Sov has begun and yes I am going to comment on it. I suppose I had better be clear about my own interpretation of what FozzieSov actually is. It includes structures, entosis and any changes that have been justified by CCP to counter the weaponised boredom of null or lack of balance perceived by the parties who live there. There is also the wider agenda mapped out by CCP Seagul that again seems to have a primary focus on null. However, What makes it my business is when it comes to the implementation of these changes. It turns out they are not exclusive to Null. As I have explained earlier, the changes resulted in me cancelling duel training and postponing the creation of an additional account until I can figure out what is going on. A side effect of the faster release cycle is it is harder to plan ahead. It is hard be agile when your skill queue is 90 plus days long especially when the training may become unusable because of some change during that period. This might sound like a litany of complaint. It isn't. I love Eve and it is good that there are changes. The problem is I don't know what they mean and not confident in what I should be doing to adapt to them in a way that works with my play style. So that is my current concern.

Discerning what is going on is the difficult part. The evidence is thin and so assumptions can be flawed. Admittedly I am a glass half empty person but the sense I get is that CCP want to make the rest of New Eden like Null. I believe that because so many changes seem to take no account of non nullsov play styles. Once is an accident. Twice a coincidence, but three times is a mindset. Now I might be wrong be I am not seeing any evidence to the contrary. So my working assumption is to assume this is true and the tanks of Null will be firmly parked on my lawn. Consequently, I have some skin in the null side of the game.

On that basis I would say FozzieSov is pretty underwhelming. It wouldn't be so disappointing if FozzieSov offered something truly disruptive. But that isn't on the menu. It is still a capture a flag game with more grinding but with a magic wand if the Duality testers are to be believed. It appears there is less accessibility for solo and casual players if the changes to wormhole connections are true. So there is still no reason for me to live there. And besides, if null is spreading its tentacles into other parts of the game then all I have to do is to wait for it to arrive.

Elephant in the room

The elephant in the room is that null is mostly empty. I am not getting how FozzieSov will address that CCP's dream of great player built enterprises populating null and beyond are all well and good but remain just that. You need people to make that happen but societies don't thrive when they permanently under attack. If I were to set up an operation in Null I would also have to pay either protection money to the local mafia or pay for a defence operation. The costs of either make business not viable assuming that the weren't too time consuming to do and you wouldn't be rolled over by one of the bigger coalitions searching for content. Would you set up a jewellery shop in the Democratic Republic of Congo selling engagement rings from locally mined diamonds? Or would you go to Amsterdam instead? And that is the truth of null. It has potentially valuable resources if Hisec decides they are valuable. That will always be the case so long as it is impossible to establish a market with high volumes and a stable supply chain. The best you can get is something like the Thera market but that is an NPC station after all.

So if the intention is to make existing players who aren't interested in Sov wars move to null then there is no business case to do so. Further more if they are like me then they have been playing for a couple of years and then they made that judgment long ago. Changing the business case - by turning he rest of new eden into null will just make the everywhere as empty as null. Not a good thing for CCP' bottom line.

This is all a bit negative so lets try and be constructive. So what is to be done? It has got to be disruptive but not antagonise players that are already firmly entrenched in their own game play. It has to attract and provide a purpose to living in null that isn't destabilised by Sov and hopefully enhances Sov. It has to attract new players - because the existing ones have already made their choices. Hold that thought.


Have you ever seen a ant colony? You probably have but not realised it. According to wikipedia the largest one was estimated to have 306 million ants with 4500 nests. That is not trivial. Ants operate entirely independently of humans and may never come across a human. But they are an important part of our ecosystem both as part of the food chain and their positive impact on the environment. They are highly organised community and not shy of warfare. Eve needs ants. Null needs ants. Where is this going?

Terrible Idea

Well my thinking is this. There is lots of space in null that could be inhabited all things being equal. The inhabitants do not necessarily need to be Eve Online Capsuleers so let's call them ants. Dust showed us the possibilities even if the execution was originally sub optimal (I understand it is now much improved). Now I am thinking something similar for the asteroid belts but not as ambitious as Dust. So a new game based in the asteroids but not as sophisticated. This is an important point because it would have to appeal to the current generation of game players and CCP probably doesn't have money to burn. So it should target the ones who play on their phone or off Facebook for example. A simple resource hunting, base defence game like Throne Rush/Clash of the Clans perhaps. The particular game I had in mind was Battle Pirates. While it was F2P and in beta it was astonishingly good fun, quite hardcore for the genre and required theory crafting. Not just in ships but in base design - something barely touched on in Eve. It has subsequently disintegrated into a very expensive P2W milk the whale fest but the original idea was good. Good to the extent that it was regularly attracting 100000 players (clash of the Clans had around 8.5 million daily players). If you could integrate something like that into null (by products of the ants are valued by Eve Onine and vice versa) then you are looking at a very different dynamic with a very different audience looking very curiously at wider world of Eve Online. Maybe to the extent that they actually sub. The extent to which it is a Free to Play or Pay to Win game would depend on how you would want to entice players into Eve Online (and particularly Null). And if there was a relatively safe deadspace market I might even live there.

Ok so this is an idea that is probably very broken and terribad. Hopefully, CCP have a much better disruptive ideas to address the elephant in the room. I look forward to seeing what they are.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Eve In and Out

Busy, busy, busy. I've got lots to say but no time to say it. Again, I have barely logged into Eve but this is entirely due to doing Eve things out of game. I did manage to catch the end of the Sarum Prime Drifter Incursion. Well done CCP for doing that. My Vigil Lore ambulance chaser was ideal for the job so pleased about that.

The out of game activities revolve around a couple of music projects I somehow got involved in. Both are quite challenging for different reasons. One is a very specific piece and it imposes quite a lot of creative constraints. This is not a bad thing. You have a target to aim at and an expectation to meet. So while you don't have to worry about developing an idea you do have to be disciplined in its execution.

The other piece is completely different. Essentially a blank sheet. A sort of "Go ahead and do something Luobote". So the struggle here is getting an idea to run with. This is always hard and inevitably a few attempts get binned after the good night's sleep test. The killer vibe can turn into a "What the hell were you thinking!" in the cold light of day.  Once I get something that seems viable the rest tends to follow quite naturally. I think I have reached that point now with this piece (but it is a bit left-field so we shall see). In theory it is now just a matter of filling in the spaces.

Its quite good skipping between the two and it has consumed most of my spare time. Quite what the clients will think of them I am not sure. But if they think they are half decent then likely you will get a chance to listen to them too. I really enjoy doing this regardless of the outcome. Attempting to be creative in a game of destruction just appeals. But I also get to meet people across the game who I wouldn't necessarily come across.

I have been asked a couple of times about the equipment I use. Hardware is just a Window's laptop with some medium priced ear-buds that seem to have a fairly flat response. I wish I had a man cave but domestic erm.. pressures ensure that is never going to be a realistic possibility. The software I use primarily is Reason 8. It's not the go to choice for a lot of musicians but I really like the workflow. I used to work in an 8 track reel to reel studio a long time ago. Anyone who has done that will get why I use Reason. For vocals I sometimes use Melodyn. I am not entirely happy with Melodyn but I haven't come across something that is as quick and easy to use that doesn't involve a mortgage.

Anyway once I have got those pieces done I will hopefully be clambering back into my spaceships in what will then be a post FozzieSov world